Ideas Unbound – Dredging Through Two Legacy Tournaments

Visit the StarCityGames.com booth at Grand Prix Houston!
Thursday, March 18th – There were some requests last week for some in-depth walkthroughs of actual games with Legacy Dredge. Instead of scripting game states myself, I have some reports for the last two tournaments I played in. I won the first tournament a few weeks ago, and lost in the semi-finals of the second last weekend.

There were some requests last week for some in-depth walkthroughs of actual games with Legacy Dredge. Instead of scripting game states myself, I have some reports for the last two tournaments I played in. I won the first tournament a few weeks ago, and lost in the semi-finals of the second last weekend.

It is true that both tournaments were relatively small; approximately twenty-five people. I don’t feel like that invalidates my results; three hundred people showed up in Indianapolis, and mono-Black control made Top 8. The tournaments had $25 entry fees and were for power/duals. All of my opponents were playing decks that you would expect to see in any Legacy Open, and they were all largely competent, or at least didn’t attack me while Glacial Chasm was in play.

I have tried to communicate the most relevant game details without getting bogged down in minutiae. If anything is unclear, let me know and I will elaborate in the forums. In general, against Blue decks, I was binning dredge cards by drawing up to eight and discarding, so if I reference dredging without other game actions, that’s how I got the engine started.

Mirkwood, 2/21/10. (Mirkwood is an amazing venue, incidentally. The store is part of a larger complex that contains a tattoo parlor, a hair salon, an insane vegetarian restaurant, and a full bar with room for live music. If you are ever in Arlington, WA, you absolutely should check it out.)

Round 1: Colin McCune, UGR Threshold

Game 1: Colin won the roll and chose to play. I mulliganed. He led with Volcanic Island and Ponder. I drew and passed with no play. Colin had Nimble Mongoose on turn two, and I did nothing and said go, discarding Stinkweed Imp at the end of my turn. Colin played Tarmogoyf on his next turn. I dredged, hitting Therapy and Bridge, but no cards with dredge; I discarded Stinkweed again. After Colin attacked me, I dredged into Ichorid and a couple dredgers. I finally played a land, then Putrid Imp. Colin Dazed it, but the Imp fueled Ichorid on my next turn, which was promptly sacrificed to Cabal Therapy away his Force of Will so that I could resolve Breakthrough. I dredged about twenty cards before reanimating two Golgari Grave-Trolls and a ton of Zombies.

Sideboarding: -3 Careful Study -1 Darkblast +1 Ancestor’s Chosen +3 Ancient Grudge

Game 2: Colin was on the play. I kept my opening hand, and discarded Golgari Grave-Troll on my first turn. Colin removed it with Faerie Macabre, but I discarded Stinkweed Imp on my next turn. Colin had another Macabre, but I had a second Imp. Colin’s third Macabre concerned me, but I ever so skillfully peeled Golgari Thug and discarded it on my fourth turn. Colin had no action other than his Macabres, and I quickly got my engine going with Ichorid, Narcomoeba, and Bridge from Below. I buried him under a bunch of Zombies a few turns later.

Round 2: Travis, Goblins

Game 1: I won the roll and played Tireless Tribe on turn 1. Travis played a land and Aether Vial. During my upkeep, I pumped Tribe with Grave-Troll and dredged. In my main phase, I pumped Tribe again with the Troll and cast Breakthrough, flipping a bunch of Bridges and Narcomoebas. I ended my second turn with a 15/15 Troll and eight Zombies.

Sideboarding: +1 Ancestor’s Chosen +3 Ancient Grudge -1 Cabal Therapy -1 Darkblast -1 Careful Study -1 Ichorid.

Game 2: Travis had Goblin Lackey, but I had Tireless Tribe to block it and fuel my dredging. On turn 2, I activated Cephalid Coliseum, dredged through fifteen cards, and flashed back Dread Return, getting a 10/10 Troll and six Zombies. Stingscourger bouncing my Troll proved a minor inconvenience, but a second Troll, more Zombies, and Ichorid got him.

Round 3: Nick Colpron, UGW Threshold

Nick had eschewed Red for White in his Threshold build, playing Swords to Plowshares instead of Lightning Bolt and running the full complement of Spell Pierce and Spell Snare , with Knight of the Reliquary being an additional heavy hitter. I think his and Chris Lennon’s addition of White is a significant improvement over the traditional Red shell.

Game 1: I won the roll and, knowing what Nick was playing, chose to draw. Nick had Engineered Explosives on turn 1, which made the Zombie plan a little awkward. I discarded dredge cards, Therapies, and Bridge from Below for my first few turns. Nick assembled a squad of two Tarmogoyfs, Knight of the Reliquary, and Nimble Mongoose, but I was able to use Ichorid to create Zombie tokens to block (with Narcomoebas ready to throw themselves under a bus if he Exploded my tokens) until I was able to Therapy away his permission, resolve Breakthrough, and reanimate two large Trolls to hold him at bay. I spent a couple turns building up more Zombies with Ichorids, then forcing him to blow Explosives, and then getting more Zombies before I began attacking with the Trolls to play around any weird sequences of double Swords plus another Explosives.

Sideboarding: -3 Careful Study -1 Darkblast +3 Ancient Grudge +1 Ancestor’s Chosen

Game 2: Nick chose to play, and had a Tundra. I discarded Stinkweed Imp on my turn, but Nick didn’t have a second land and was forced to discard as well. That was unsettling; if he kept a seven-card one-lander, I was sure his hand was all Ravenous Traps and counterspells. Continuing to draw and discard, I found a Narcomoeba, an Ichorid, and two Bridges before finding a Therapy. Nick found a second land and played Jotun Grunt. When I Therapied Nick for Ravenous Trap, it turned out his hand was all counterspells. Confident that I could race his Grunt with the draw spells in my hand, I passed the turn with four Zombies, but after I dredged on my next turn, Nick cast Brainstorm, found Ravenous Trap, and mauled my graveyard. However, this also denied him the ability to feed Jotun Grunt, and I still had my Zombies. After a couple of turns, Nick had to sacrifice his Grunt, and the Zombies got him.

Rounds 4 and 5: Intentional draw.

Quarterfinals: Corbett, UGRW Counterbalance

Corbett and I had driven up together and split. He conceded, figuring that I had better Top 8 matchups and would beat him anyway.

Semifinals: Nick, still with UGW Thresh

Game 1: Nick won the roll and chose to play. I evaded permission by discarding my dredger at the end of my first turn, and he played Tarmogoyf on turn two. I took six from the Tarmogoyf before chaining into Ichorids, Bridges from Below, and Narcomoebas to build up Zombies while blocking the Tarmogoyf. After a few turns, I Therapied away his permission and flashed back Dread Return for a gigantic Grave-Troll.

Sideboarding: -3 Careful Study -1 Darkblast +3 Ancient Grudge +1 Ancestor’s Chosen

Game 2: Nick chose to play. I mulliganned a zero land hand that contained Bridge, Therapy, and two Narcomoebas, figuring that I would probably want access to at least one mana at some point and that the Narcomoebas in hand made my dredging less explosive. I kept two land, Tireless Tribe, Narcomoeba, Bridge from Below, and Cabal Therapy. I was confident that I could use the Therapy to clear out enough of his counterspells to resolve the Tribe, and if I drew a dredge card in the first few turns I would probably win. I was able to resolve the Tribe, but never found a card with dredge and got run over by Knight of the Reliquary, Tarmogoyf, and Jotun Grunt.

Game 3: I chose to draw and used the cleanup step to bin a dredge card. Nick had no visible hate cards, but did come out of the gates with three Tarmogoyfs, and I didn’t have many Zombies to block with. I was able to find an Ichorid to feed to Cabal Therapy for Ravenous Trap, but I didn’t have threshold to activate Cephalid Coliseum in the same turn because I hadn’t dredged during my draw step in order to play around Trap. Nick bashed me down to twelve, but didn’t draw a Trap on his next turn, and after activating Coliseum and engaging in shenanigans, I had first an Ancestor’s Chosen and thirty-nine life, then a 14/14 Grave-Troll. (Chosen over a second Grave-Troll to not be kold to a counterspell on the second Troll plus a Plow for the first one.) I spent the next couple of turns building up Zombies, then got another Grave-Troll and mashed him.

Finals: Chris, Aggro-Loam

Game 1: Chris won the roll and chose to play, leading with Engineered Explosives for zero. I had Tireless Tribe on turn 1, and then cast Careful Study on turn 2, flipping all four Bridges and some Narcomoebas. I flashed back two Dread Returns and got 10/10 and 9/9 Grave-Trolls along with eleven Zombies. Chris destroyed the Zombies with Explosives, but the Trolls got him.

Sideboarding: +4 Chain of Vapor +1 Ray of Revelation -2 Cabal Therapy -1 Darkblast -1 Dread Return -1 Ichorid

Game 1: Chris chose to play and mulliganed. I kept a slow hand with double Chain of Vapor for a potential Leyline of the Void. I discarded Grave-Troll on turn 1, then kept dredging it every turn, clocking Chris with Narcomoeba and Ichorid. Chris’s draw just had Explosives and some Leylines he had drawn in the first couple turns but couldn’t cast. Ichorids and Narcomoeba got him without my ever playing a land or casting a spell.

First Pick Games, 3/14/10

Round 1: Stephen, Natural Order Counterbalance

Game 1: Stephen led with Noble Hierarch, and I discarded Golgari Grave-Troll, trying to dredge into Cabal Therapy before he found Natural Order. Neither of us found our sorceries after a turn of digging, but Stephen did have a Tarmogoyf that demanded attention, so I activated Cephalid Coliseum on my third turn and dredged a ton of cards before making a pair of 20/20 Trolls. He Plowed one, the other got him.

Sideboarding: +1 Ancestor’s Chosen +3 Ancient Grudge -1 Darkblast -3 Careful Study

Game 2: I discarded again on turn 1. Not having a draw spell, I was only dredging six per turn while Stephen was furiously chaining cantrips. I thought he was looking for Ravenous Trap or Tormod’s Crypt, and when he found what he was looking for – Wheel of Sun and Moon – I had a single Stinkweed Imp to defend me from all of Bant. That didn’t end well.

An aside: Wheel of Sun and Moon, Yixlid Jailer, and other two-mana hate cards are generally not incredibly difficult to deal with, but do require you to actually play Magic in order to fight them. The general plan against Blue is to use the discard step to blank their permission, but you need to hit them with Cabal Therapy on your second turn (Or, you know, kill them on your second turn with Breakthrough/Coliseum/Study) which implies playing a turn 1 outlet and dredging on turn 2. This makes their Force of Will live, which is unfortunate but not insurmountable.

(Yes, sometimes they have Brainstorm to trump Therapy. You can’t win them all.)

Sideboarding: -1 Ancient Grudge +1 Ray of Revelation. (Chain of Vapor stayed on the bench because I wasn’t sure if he had any Crypts or not.)

Game 3: I resolved Tireless Tribe on turn 1 and cast Careful Study and Breakthrough on turn 2. Close game, lots of skill.

Round 2: Kasey, UGRW Counterbalance (Trinket Mage, no Natural Order.)

Game 1: I lost the roll. Kasey had an Island, but my hand was Putrid Imp, Tribe, Therapy, Study, Stinkweed Imp, City, Coliseum, so I didn’t bother discarding on turn one. Kasey had Force of Will for my Putrid Imp,* but the Tireless Tribe and Careful Study resolved. Study flipped Narcomoeba and other goodies, and I discarded the Therapy and flashed it back for Trinket Mage. I ran him over with Zombies and Trolls a couple of turns later.

Sideboarding: +3 Ancient Grudge -1 Darkblast -1 Dread Return -1 Careful Study

Game 2: I was back on the draw, discard, dredge plan for this game, but Kasey had a Tarmogoyf, and when I Therapied him for Mage, he showed me a handful of spells and Academy Ruins, then drew the Mage and locked me out with Crypt. Sometimes you can fight Crypt and Ruins by setting up an end step Grudge plus card draw, but I had none of those.

Game 3: I chose to draw and just discarded for the first couple turns. Kasey had a Tormod’s Crypt, but he had to use it when I dredged into Ichorid and two Bridges or I would have simply buried him with Zombies. With that obstacle out of the way, I Therapied myself for the two Stinkweed Imps in my hand and cast Breakthrough. He was dead shortly after.

*In general, lead with Putrid Imp against Blue decks; you would rather have Imp countered than Tribe because of Ichorid.

Round 3: Josh Monks, Merfolk

Game 1: Josh opened on Aether Vial and Cursecatcher and I began discarding to hand size. When he played Umezawa’s Jitte, I got worried and tried to hit him with Therapy so that I would have one fewer Force of Will to contend with when I went for Dread Return on my next turn. Josh sacrificed Cursecatcher to counter it, then Vialed in Kira, Great Glass-Spinner, equipped it with Jitte, and attacked. Even with Jitte, Josh wasn’t going to win the race against both of my Ichorids and had to start shooting them, but that allowed me to build up lethal Zombies and edge out the win just before he would have killed me.

Sideboarding: +1 Ancestor’s Chosen +3 Ancient Grudge -3 Careful Study -1 Golgari Thug

Game 2: Josh came out fast with double Cursecatcher and Jitte. I only had one land, so his Cursecatchers kept his Jitte safe from my Ancient Grudges.

Game 3: I chose to draw, but when I discarded on turn 1, Josh played Relic of Progenitus and got my Stinkweed Imp. Fair enough. Fortunately, he didn’t have a counter for my Putrid Imp, and I had another dredger to keep going. Josh had to blow his Relic when I dredged into Ichorid, Narcomoeba, and Bridge, but had a second. His only pressure was some Silvergill Adepts, though, and he had to use his second Relic when I dredged into another Ichorid and two Bridges or I would Zombie swarm him in a few turns. With both Relics gone, I was free to play and activate the Cephalid Coliseum in my hand, and ground him out with the Imp, some Narcomoebas, and a few Zombies.

Round 4: Jesse, Aggro-Loam

Game 1: I cast Putrid Imp on turn one and activated Cephalid Coliseum on turn two.

At this point, Jesse, ravenously hungry, not wanting to play against Dredge, and assured of making Top 8 due to insane breakers, conceded to go get some food.

Round 5: Josh Serad, Merfolk

Game 1: Josh swarmed me with Cursecatcher, two Silvergill Adepts, and Lord of Atlantis while I dredged away the top half of my library and found no Narcomoebas or Ichorids. Frown.

Sideboarding: +1 Ancestor’s Chosen +3 Ancient Grudge -3 Careful Study -1 Golgari Thug

Game 2: Josh played Silvergill Adept showing me a second Adept on turn two while I was busy discarding. I Therapied away the Adept on my second turn and saw Force of Will, Lord of Atlantis, Echoing Truth, and lands. I started trying to get up Zombies to block, but Josh drew three Dazes and countered all of my Therapies and hardcast creatures. I was able to get a few Zombies up and running, but Josh had double Echoing Truth and got me with consecutive alpha strikes.

I think naming Silvergill Adept on the turn 2 Therapy is wrong. If Josh doesn’t have a third Merfolk, he won’t have any pressure, and if he does, he will just play a different bear on turn two and I won’t save much damage. If I had named Force of Will, I might have been able to resolve a Tireless Tribe later on and stem some bleeding.

Quarterfinals: Jonathan, UGR Threshold

Game 1: Jonathan’s first four turns: Nimble Mongoose. Tarmogoyf. Tarmogoyf, Ponder. Tarmogoyf, Nimble Mongoose.

I see. At least he didn’t have threshold for his Geese. Yet.

I was discarding to hand size, but hit two Ichorids early along with Cabal Therapy. I removed the second Ichorid to the first Ichorid rather than removing a Golgari Thug because I wanted to make sure the Careful Study in my hand would dredge twice. After stripping Jonathan’s Force of Will, I cast Careful Study and completely bricked. The plan had been to flip a second Bridge and some Narcomoebas along with a Dread Return for Troll. That didn’t happen, and I had to scramble with some Zombie chump blockers, falling to eleven. On my next turn, I found Dread Return, but I only had a few Zombies to accompany my Grave-Troll. I lost my Bridges over Jonathan’s next two attacks, falling to six and trading off most of the board so that my Grave-Troll was squaring off with a lone Tarmogoyf and a Mongoose. At that point, I wanted that second Ichorid pretty badly to help build up Zombies, but I was eventually able to find some chump blockers and put Jonathan away with the Troll.

Sideboarding: +1 Ancestor’s Chosen +3 Ancient Grudge -3 Careful Study -1 Darkblast

Game 2: I discarded on turn 1 and was promptly Ravenous Trapped when my first dredge hit Bridge, Therapy, and Narcomoeba. Undeterred, I kept discarding and dredging. Jonathan played Vendilion Clique and put a Dread Return on the bottom, but the free dredge found me an Ichorid and two more Bridges. I traded the Bridges for the Clique and two Zombies, but Jonathan peeled a Tarmogoyf to bring my offense to a halt. Jonathan declined to race after I gained twenty with Ancestor’s Chosen, so I flew over with some Narcomoebas and killed him.

Semifinals: Josh Serad, still Merfolk

Game 1: Josh had Cursecatcher, Silvergill Adept, Mutavault, and Lord of Atlantis bashing me in the first few turns. I found an Ichorid to create a Zombie to buy a couple of turns, but I didn’t find any Therapies to strip his permission and he had counterspells for my Careful Study and Breakthrough.

Sideboarding: +1 Ancestor’s Chosen +3 Ancient Grudge -3 Careful Study -1 Golgari Thug

Game 2: I decided to deviate from my plan against blue decks and decided to play first. I was concerned that aggressive Merfolk draws backed by multiple counters were hard to beat if my dredging went poorly or if he had Relic. Still, if you dredge well or Merfolk has a slow draw you are ahead, and it’s not like you’re completely kold to their good draw anyway. You lose more matches on the whole because of an inability to resolve an outlet or because they Wastelanded your only land and you had to use it to cast an outlet instead of Ancient Grudge or a draw spell. As in all matchups, you have to accept that you will lose occasional games when the other guy has a good draw and yours is quite poor.

I mulliganned to five and got what I deserved, keeping two lands, two Breakthroughs, and a dredger. I didn’t Breakthrough on turn 1 because I would be completely unable to beat Relic, but Josh’s turn 1 Cursecatcher made the turn 2 Breakthrough plan a little awkward. I drew a third Breakthrough, but Josh had double Force of Will and beat me firmly about the head and shoulders with some random Merfolk.

Dredge is absurdly powerful and doesn’t allow your opponent to interact with you except along very specific axes. Meanwhile, you get to Cabal Therapy them two or three times per game while having an absurd clock. Play Dredge, learn how to beat the hate cards, and you will win tournaments.

Max McCall
max dot mccall at gmail dot com